News Releases from Headquarters›Water (OW)
What They Are Saying About Trump's New WOTUS Proposal
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue: “When I meet with the men and women of American agriculture, one of their chief concerns is always the overreach of federal regulations. The WOTUS rule is regularly singled out as particularly egregious, as it impedes the use of their own land and stifles productivity. Farmers and ranchers are exceptional stewards of the environment, and states have their own standards as well. This welcome action from the EPA and Army Corps will help bring clarity to Clean Water Act regulations and help farmers know where federal jurisdiction begins and ends. President Trump is making good on his promise to reduce burdensome regulations to free our producers to do what they do best – feed, fuel, and clothe this nation and the world.”
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) Senator John Barrasso (WY): “Americans deserve clean water and clear rules. The Trump administration’s new proposal respects the authority Congress gave EPA and the Army Corps under the Clean Water Act. Regulations must follow the law and be easy for Americans to understand. This new proposal does that. The old WOTUS rule put Washington in control of ponds, puddles, and prairie potholes. The regulation was so confusing that property owners and businesses could not determine when permits were needed. Even worse, it inserted Washington into local decision making. This overreach put unfair restrictions on how farmers, ranchers, and landowners could use their property. I am glad the new proposal addresses these issues.”
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Senator Pat Roberts (KS): “I thank President Trump and the EPA for putting a priority on revising the WOTUS rule to be workable for farmers, ranchers, and landowners. This revised rule scales back the previously affected areas, which represented a huge regulatory overstep by the Obama administration. Farmers and ranchers can spend more time growing and raising food – instead of sifting through mounds of regulatory red tape.”
Chairwoman of the Senate Committee of Energy and Natural Resources Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK): “This is a big deal for Alaska that should help end years of concern, frustration, and uncertainty over a costly regulation that would have halted construction projects and other economic opportunities. new proposal will protect water quality while providing clarity on the scope of regulation and restoring balance to the state and federal relationship. I look forward to working with EPA and the Army Corps to make sure it is effective and workable for Alaskans.”
Senator Joni Ernst (IA): “For years, people impacted by Obama’s WOTUS rule have been in a state of regulatory limbo. The proposed WOTUS rule, released by the Trump EPA, provides much needed predictability and certainty by establishing clear and reasonable definitions of what qualifies as a ‘WOTUS.’ Iowa’s farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and small businesses can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that, going forward, a tire track that collects rain water won’t be regulated by the federal government. I want to thank the EPA, under Acting Administrator Wheeler’s leadership, for ensuring this WOTUS replacement rule was released quickly, and properly, to provide much-needed regulatory certainty to the people of Iowa.”
Senator Mike Rounds (SD): “The revised WOTUS rule gives farmers, ranchers and landowners the certainty they need to know when the Clean Water Act applies to them and when it does not. In providing this clarity from the onset, it removes Washington bureaucrats from making ambiguous decisions on land which they aren’t familiar with, as landowners are. Additionally, the rule works with landowners to strengthen water safety – rather than saddle them with unnecessary burdens with little to no benefit to the environment and our water supply. It also respects states’ rights, recognizing that state and tribal governments have a right to regulate and manage their land and water resources themselves. As it was previously written, the WOTUS rule would have been one of the largest federal land grabs in U.S. history. It would have required farmers, ranchers and landowners to spend countless hours filling out burdensome paperwork to get permits from the federal government just to conduct normal agricultural activities or spray for weeds along our county roads. I thank the administration for recognizing the damage the previous administration’s WOTUS rule would have on agricultural operations and job creators. I look forward to working with my colleagues to move this commonsense proposal forward.”
Senator John Hoeven (ND): “This revised WOTUS rule helps restore the regulatory primacy of states and tribes and provides certainty throughout our economy, including for our farmers and ranchers. This is especially important in North Dakota and the rest of the prairie pothole region, where the previous administration’s rule would have imposed significant burdens on a majority of landowners, just due to the presence of temporary and seasonal standing water. That’s why we worked hard to provide this regulatory relief, and we appreciate Acting Administrator Wheeler, Assistant Secretary James, Secretary Zinke and all of our partners in working with us to advance this priority.”
Senator Jim Inhofe (OK): “We needed a right-sized WOTUS rule, and that is exactly what President Trump and Acting Administrator Wheeler delivered. The new rule will clearly define the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act in a straightforward manner, alleviating the burden farmers and landowners face under the Obama-era rule requiring them to spend tens of thousands of unnecessary dollars to determine if they need to obtain a federal permit to make improvements to their land. Thirty-two states, two courts and even members of Obama’s own administration all agreed that the Obama-era WOTUS rule was deeply flawed and an illegal land-grab by unelected federal bureaucrats. The new WOTUS rule changes all of that by helping farmers, ranchers, homebuilders and energy producers across Oklahoma focus on their business—not red tape—and I am glad we are moving in the right direction.”
Senator Steve Daines (MT): “The Obama WOTUS rule took federal government overreach in rural America to absurd new levels. Maybe the Obama administration should have spent more time focusing on economic growth and protecting the homeland rather than trying to regulate farm puddles. As chair of the Senate Western Caucus, I applaud the Trump administration for rewriting this rule so that it applies to actual public waterways and no longer does harm to farmers and ranchers.”
Senator Jeff Flake (AZ): “I applaud the administration’s efforts to clarify and narrow the scope of the misguided Waters of the United States rule. The rewritten rule provides the consistency and predictability that landowners need, and stops the flow of the federal government into every dry ditch in Arizona.”
Senator Jon Kyl (AZ): “I am pleased the EPA announced it will propose a change to the Clean Water Act’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule, which has continuously subjected Arizona farmers and ranchers, as well as Arizona’s homebuilding industry, to federal overreach. A rule change would allow these industries continue to operate without unnecessary restrictions.”
Senator Mike Enzi (WY): “The Obama-era Waters of the United States rule gave the Environmental Protection Agency power to regulate bodies of waters it should have never had control over. It was an executive overreach, which not only took away authority that was rightly vested in the states, but it failed to take the concerns of the stakeholders who were most impacted by it into consideration. I opposed this rule from the very beginning, cosponsoring a Senate resolution to overturn it. I am glad the Trump Administration has taken steps to more clearly define which bodies of water the federal government should be managing and look forward to fully reviewing the new rule.”
Senator Ben Sasse (NE): "This is good news. The Obama-era WOTUS rule was textbook Washington hogwash: unelected federal bureaucrats were trying to unconstitutionally regulate puddles here in Nebraska. I'm grateful for today's new approach -- Nebraska producers need predictability and common sense. Here’s the truth Nebraskans have known all along: nobody cares more about our land and water resources than we do -- our farmers and ranchers don't talk about conservation, they do it."
Senator Rand Paul (KY): “The current, overly burdensome ‘Waters of the United States’ rule from the Obama administration places significant hardships on states, landowners, and farmers, granting broad federal control over water, and I have long called and worked for action to protect Kentuckians and all other Americans from its effects. As part of those efforts, I have previously introduced the Defense of Environment and Property Act, which I will reintroduce before the end of this Congress, to provide a permanent statutory fix for this issue. I applaud the Trump administration for its action today to revise the definition of WOTUS and provide needed clarity on the scope of federal water jurisdiction.”
Senator Jim Risch (ID): “President Trump’s new Waters of the United States definition is a significant and necessary improvement from the Obama Administration’s disastrous attempt to regulate every puddle of water across America. Idaho’s farmers and ranchers have an important job to do feeding American families, and the less time they have to spend navigating federal bureaucracy, the better off we’ll all be.”
Senator Mike Crapo (ID): “Returning to the agreed upon definition of ‘Waters of the United States’ and rightsizing federal government oversight is the right approach to managing and protecting our waters. I support EPA's action to roll back this rule and return the management of Idaho's waters to our state officials who know our lands best. The 2015 Clean Water Rule is a textbook case of a federal overreach. This rule subverts state water sovereignty and jeopardizes private property rights by significantly expanding federal authority— allowing the EPA to regulate nearly every stream, ditch, pond and puddle on both state and local lands, as well as private property.”
Senator Ted Cruz (TX): “I am pleased to see the EPA and Army Corps’ proposal that finally provides a common-sense definition of ‘waters of the United States. Only in Washington can a puddle or dry ditch be considered navigable water. Today’s WOTUS announcement is evidence of this administration’s commitment to reining in federal overreach and protecting the property rights of landowners. This proposal will replace the Obama administration's broad regulation which greatly expanded the scope of federal authority over land and waterways in the United States. Ultimately, it will prevent the federal government from telling private landowners, farmers, ranchers, and others in Texas and across America what they can and cannot do with their private property.”
Senator Tom Cotton (AR): "Everyone wants clean water, but the 2015 ‘waters of the U.S.' rule was a vast and vague expansion of federal regulation, especially in Arkansas. The new definition announced today still protects our waterways while giving producers and landowners the clarity they need to farm and build. Many of the proposed changes closely mirror my own legislative solution to this regulatory problem, and I'm pleased that the Trump administration has followed through on its promise to rural America."
Senator Dan Sullivan (AK): “I welcome the EPA’s long awaited proposal to restore power to states and protect land owners – and hardworking Alaskans – from the confusing and burdensome federal overreach of the last Administration’s WOTUS rule. If a landowner or a farmer has to hire a lawyer for months of work against an impenetrable and glacial bureaucracy – at the cost of thousands of dollars – just to understand whether they can fill in a ditch or build a basic structure, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that doesn’t work, especially in Alaska. The EPA’s proposal offers a path for a more reasonable, statutory based interpretation of the Clean Water Act. I hope we can continue this progress and finalize a rule that clearly allocates state and federal authority to adequately protect our watersheds and resources, without unnecessarily burdening Alaskans and our economy.”
Senator Roy Blunt (MO): “Rolling back the previous administration’s blatant EPA power grab is an important victory for our state. The previous WOTUS rule went far beyond any reasonable definition of navigable waterways and would have given the EPA jurisdiction over nearly every puddle, ditch, and pond in Missouri. This commonsense regulatory approach will protect Missouri families, farmers, and businesses from higher costs and burdensome red tape. I’ll continue working with the administration to get rid of misguided regulations that hurt our state and have little to no positive impact.”
Senator Chuck Grassley (IA): “I commend President Trump and his administration for stepping up to fix the mistakes of the out-of-touch Obama administration. The Waters of the U.S. rule was an ill-conceived overreach. The rule and its drafting process were flawed from the beginning. It would have defined 97 percent of Iowa as a waterway, meaning that if implemented, family farmers and other small business owners would have had to get permission from Washington bureaucrats to move soil on dry land. The move announced today by the Trump administration would set commonsense limits on state versus federal jurisdiction over waterways and make it simpler to comply with regulations aimed at improving water quality. I want to thank President Trump for his leadership, for keeping the promise he made to Rural America to repeal this rule and for providing commonsense regulatory relief to the people of Iowa and Americans across the country.”
Senator Johnny Isakson (GA): “Today’s action by the Trump administration is a relief to Georgia’s farmers and our agriculture industry. This new commonsense definition will restore state and private property rights while preserving the appropriate role of the federal government in protecting waterways that cross state lines.”
Senator Jerry Moran (KS): “It is critical that we work to protect our wetlands and waterways for future generations. The proposed WOTUS rule aims to promote clean water, while providing clarity to stakeholders on EPA’s jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. This provides a welcome change from the overreaching Obama-era WOTUS rule by providing a sensible, clear definition that will result in better utilization of resources and cut red tape for Kansas producers. I will work with the administration to make certain its implementation works for farmers, ranchers and other stakeholders.”
Governor Pete Ricketts (NE): “Thank you President Trump and Acting Administrator Wheeler for your continued commitment to repealing President Obama’s onerous WOTUS rule,” said Governor Ricketts. “This new proposal returns more power to the states and private land owners where it belongs. From family farms to commercial developers, this certainty is critical for the job creators who provide opportunities and grow Nebraska.”
Governor Kim Reynolds (IA): I want to thank Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler and President Donald Trump’s administration for listening to stakeholders across this country when rewriting the Water of the United States (WOTUS) rule.The new WOTUS rule provides much needed stability to our farmers after years of uncertainty from the Obama administration’s massive federal overreach with the original WOTUS rule.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conway (TX-11): “Clear rules and clean water – that’s what the EPA should stand for, and today’s announcement marks a hopeful new chapter for farm country. The Trump administration’s proposed definition of “waters of the U.S.” is the next step to replacing the burdensome 2015 WOTUS rule and to creating streamlined and simplified rules for all landowners. I applaud this administration for listening to concerns raised by farmers and ranchers and their representatives in Congress. I am eager to see a rule that restores integrity to the regulatory process and supports American agriculture as it seeks to preserve our natural resources.”
House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-01): “Thanks to the great leadership of Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler at EPA, a new definition of WOTUS will bring much needed clarity and certainty for America’s farmers, contractors, landowners, and ranchers. The previous WOTUS rule from 2015 was a reckless expansion of federal control. EPA did an excellent job of including the voices of many who are directly impacted by the WOTUS rule. Today is a win for many Utahns and Americans across the country.”
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (PA-09): “As soon as President Trump took office, he rightly acted to halt the previous administration’s WOTUS rule – an attempted expansion of federal authority over the rights of small businesses, farmers, manufacturers, local communities, and private citizens,” said “The goal must be a reasonable regulatory structure that recognizes that there are limits to federal jurisdiction, that provides certainty for job creators and communities, and that protects our water and environment. I commend the administration for moving forward today to better achieve that goal.”
Western Caucus Chairman Paul Gosar (AZ-04): "Like a villain in Scooby Doo, the past Administration almost got away with an unparalleled expansion of Federal power. The WOTUS land and water-grab rule proposed by the Obama Administration was one of the greatest regulatory threats to the West and rural communities. Fortunately, this legally-dubious effort was unmasked for what it was by the Supreme Court and this Administration. I’m happy to see some sanity restored to Clean Water Act implementation. Thank you Acting Administrator Wheeler and President Trump for taking the lead and crafting a definition that adheres to the original law, promotes extremely clean and safe waterways, and remains Federalist in its nature."
House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (IL-15): “As I’ve said numerous times in this debate, Congress never intended for the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to have jurisdiction over every ditch, creek, and puddle in the country. The previous administration’s attempt to control these unnavigable waters was federal overreach of the worst kind and has, because of litigation, left farmers and landowners at the mercy of an inconsistent patchwork of regulations. I applaud the Trump Administration’s proposed rule that would restore the cooperative state-tribal-federal relationship and end years of uncertainty over where and when federal permits are actually required.”
House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Chairman Ken Calvert (CA-42): "The Clean Water Act is an essential law that has made a tremendous impact protecting and improving the quality of one of our most precious resources. The updated WOTUS rule will help ensure our federal resource agencies are able to focus their efforts on our most significant waterways. It will also help eliminate the use of the Clean Water Act as a tool by serial litigants and extreme environmentalists to attack private property rights."
House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment Chairman Garret Graves (LA-06): "The 2015 rule was an unconstitutional expansion of federal power that used bureaucrat-speak to strip landowners of their rights and local governments of their ability to manage waters within their borders. This new approach is the product of doing it the right way – openly, with the input of the American people. The new rule respects the rights of private property owners and the sovereignty of states, right-sizes the federal government’s role in enforcement and provides clarity where there was confusion. Instead of forcing a top-down, one-size-fits-all mandate, it recognizes that the issues on the ground in places like Arizona are fundamentally different than in places like Louisiana and gives states the flexibility to manage those differences. Most importantly, it doesn’t compromise the goal: preventing pollution, ensuring clean water and protecting wetlands."
Rep. Doug LaMalfa (CA-01): “After listening to those directly impacted by one of the previous Administration’s most harmful rules, the EPA is replacing WOTUS with something that actually makes sense for land and business owners. Instead of attempting to needlessly regulate every puddle, ditch, and furrow in America, the new rule will focus on bodies of water and wetlands that are physically and meaningfully connected to other bodies of jurisdictional water. Now, those driving our economy will spend less time and money on land-use decisions and litigation and more time on running their business. States will finally have a clear definition of where federal jurisdiction ends and begins, as well as the ability to properly manage their own water. WOTUS was nothing short of a job-killing Washington power grab, and I’m glad to see it replaced with something that works.”
Rep. Bob Gibbs (OH-07): “I applaud President Trump’s efforts to reverse the power grab attempted by the Obama Administration. It is clear enforcement of the Clean Water Act must be a collaborative effort between the federal and state government. This is an issue I’ve been fighting for several years, working to make sure our agriculture community, homebuilders, private property advocates, and local governments are given a clear set of jurisdictional rules. We can protect the environment, encourage economic growth, and safeguard private property rights without unnecessarily expanding federal jurisdiction. This WOTUS rule does that while providing the certainty our nation’s farmers and ranchers need.”
Rep. Sam Graves (MO-06): “I am thrilled that the Trump Administration has listened to the people and kept their promise to get rid of WOTUS,” said Graves. “You can have a thriving rural economy and clean water. This rule accomplishes that. This reworked rule will provide the certainty and flexibility rural Americans need to properly manage their land and benefit both the economy and the environment. I commend President Trump and his administration for following through on his commitment to protecting our rural way of life. One of President Trump’s earliest acts in office was an executive order directing EPA and the Army Corps to review and replace the Obama EPA’s definition of the “waters of the United States. The proposal would make it easier to understand where the Clean Water Act applies, and more importantly where it does not. The proposal would help business owners spend less money and time making decisions about whether their waters are “Waters of the United States,” and more time running their businesses and strengthening the nation’s economy.
Rep. Debbie Lesko (AZ-08): "I applaud the EPA and the Trump Administration for taking action to end the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule and restore power to Arizona’s farmers, ranchers, and landowners. This land and water grabbing rule created under the Obama Administration is a prime example of a federal overreach placing unnecessary burdens on states and property owners. It’s time for the onerous WOTUS rule to be repealed once and for all.”
Dean of the House Don Young (AK-At Large): "The Obama-era WOTUS rule is a shining example of federal overreach. I’m pleased to see Administrator Wheeler take action in implementing President Trump’s promise to overturn this shortsighted rule. I will continue to work with this administration to ensure state and local governments are able to effectively manage their waters without the unnecessary and inconsistent oversight of the federal government."
State Attorneys General
Montana Attorney General Tim Fox: “Today’s proposed rule respects the role of the states in managing land and water resources, whereas the rule proposed by the Obama Administration in 2015 appeared to be more about grabbing power than about protecting water,” Attorney General Fox said. “This time, the EPA and Corps of Engineers listened to the people directly impacted by the regulations and crafted a proposal that makes it much easier for everyone to understand where the Clean Water Act does and does not apply.”
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry: “As someone who has been in the trenches and the courts fighting for federalism and the rule of law, I applaud the Trump Administration’s decision to redefine WOTUS. The previous administration’s rule was an abuse of authority that granted federal control over many bodies of water that were never intended to be governed by the Clean Water Act. Today’s decision is a major victory for Louisiana farmers, developers, and landowners and another defeat of federal overreach. I look forward to the official end of this regulatory nightmare and the beginning of a surge in infrastructure projects and economic development in our State.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (TX): “This announcement is a strong sign that the current Administration is working to restore the rule of law to federal regulations across the country. President Trump dramatically scaled back the unlawful Obama-era Waters of the United States rule. President Trump’s new policy attempts to more clearly define what waters are subject to federal regulation. With this new proposal, states remain free to regulate their own natural resources. State and local governments will continue to work alongside the Trump Administration to protect our constitutional system of federalism. Under President Trump, Republican attorneys general are restoring the rule of law and the principles of cooperative federalism. More than 30 states, including Texas, sued the federal government to overturn the Obama-era rule. Our swift action to challenge the rule allowed the Trump administration the opportunity to revisit this unlawful regulation. We are committed to continue working with the federal government and our respective state environmental agencies to ensure that our waters are protected.”
American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall: “Farmers and ranchers work every day to protect our nation’s waterways and drinking water. For more than five years we have advocated for a new water rule that protects clean water and provides clear rules for people and communities to follow. This new rule will empower farmers and ranchers to comply with the law, protect our water resources and productively work their land without having to hire an army of lawyers and consultants. We want to protect land and water in the communities where we live and work. Clean water is our way of life. Preserving our land and protecting our water means healthy places to live, work and play. We believe this new Clean Water Rule is rooted in common-sense. It will protect our nation’s water resources and allow farmers to farm. We appreciate the months of hard work that the administration, especially the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers, invested in making sure the new Clean Water Rule was done right. Unlike the 2015 WOTUS rule, this new rule protects our resources, respects the law and provides greater clarity so the agencies and the public can identify regulated federal waterways. We will further analyze this new rule in the coming days and will suggest further refinements during the comment period.”
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Energy Institute President & CEO Karen Harbert: “This new rule is good news for businesses, farmers, and localities because it strikes a better balance between economic growth and environmental progress than the rule it replaces. The previous rule gave EPA and the Army Corps unprecedented authority to permit and enforce areas well beyond what Congress intended. This revised rule will end a great deal of uncertainty that came in the wake of the former rule, and it will provide much-needed clarity.”
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Kevin Kester “After years of uncertainty stemming from the 2015 WOTUS rule, the Trump Administration’s new water rule represents a fresh start for America’s cattle producers. NCBA advocated for a new water rule that is easy to understand and implement. The Administration listened. The proposed water rule provides safeguards to keep our waters clean and clear rules for landowners to follow. We look forward to engaging with the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to finalize the rule.”
National Mining Association President and CEO Hal Quinn: “States have an important role in safeguarding land and water resources, and EPA and the Corps’ newly-proposed WOTUS definition restores the proper balance between state and federal environmental protections outlined in the U.S. Constitution and the Clean Water Act. Our laws were designed to both protect our nation’s waterways and provide the regulatory certainty necessary for a thriving economy. This new rule eliminates the harmful federal overreach of the last administration and resolves the uncertainty that has plagued Clean Water Act implementation for decades, offering a long-sought clear path forward for the benefit of all.”
National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) CEO Jim Matheson: “We applaud the administration for recognizing the need to replace the WOTUS rule. The 2015 rule was a significant overreach of the federal government’s authority to regulate water and land. We look forward to working with regulators on a more workable and lawful regulation, one that allows electric co-ops to conduct maintenance and build new infrastructure without triggering additional and more onerous permitting requirements. Such an approach enables electric co-ops to continue providing reliable and affordable electricity to more than 42 million Americans.”
American Forest & Paper Association President and CEO Donna Harman: “We are pleased to see action being taken on an issue that has stymied past administrations. Stakeholders, including forest products manufacturers and state and local governments, deserve the clarity and certainty that this rule provides as they work to ensure our nation’s waters are clean. As one of the largest manufacturing sectors in the nation with a successful record of implementing sustainable manufacturing principles, we consider that a ‘win-win’ for the environment and economic growth and job creation.”
National Association of Home Builders Chairman Randy Noel: “By bringing certainty and clarity to which waters fall under federal oversight, this proposal should help accelerate the permitting process so home builders can more easily provide safe and affordable housing. Finalizing this revised WOTUS definition will protect our nation’s waterways without adding needless regulatory burdens that will hurt housing and other industries that depend on a predictable permitting process.”
National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association President and CEO Michael W. Johnson: “We are pleased that EPA listened as NSSGA advocated that dry streambeds and isolated waters should not be federally regulated under the Clean Water Act. We strongly support the administration’s effort to improve rules, such as WOTUS, that have had direct impact on the availability and costs of materials needed for vital infrastructure projects. NSSGA members work diligently to protect the environment, but they need regulatory clarity to do so. We are preparing comments on this rule and look forward to continued work with the administration to refine burdensome regulations.”
American Energy Alliance President Thomas Pyle: “Historically, the ‘Waters of the United States’ definition has been abused to increase the size and scope of the federal government and violate the property rights of landowners under the guise of protecting our country’s waterways. Despite the Clean Water Act affirming up front the primacy of the states in regulation of water, the scope of the federal government’s jurisdiction has been a source of litigation and controversy for decades. One administration after another, both Republican and Democrat, has sought to invade the states’ proper primacy in local water regulation, and the Supreme Court has rightfully struck down these overly broad definitions. The 2015 WOTUS definition created by the Obama administration sought to go even further, writing a rule so broad that it effectively stretched federal regulatory power to virtually every bit of water in the country. Unsurprisingly, that rule has remained mired in litigation ever since. Rather than continuing to subject landowners to this uncertainty, the Trump administration is wise to repeal the 2015 rule in order to more accurately conform with the plain text of the Clean Water Act as well as previous Supreme Court decisions.”
Edison Electric Institute President Tom Kuhn: “EEI thanks EPA and USACE for moving forward with a replacement to the 2015 WOTUS rule. By proposing a replacement to the problematic 2015 WOTUS rule, EPA and USACE have taken an important step in providing EEI’s member companies with greater regulatory certainty and clarity, while avoiding substantial new operating requirements and increased customer costs. EEI has been consistent in its support for a rulemaking that more clearly and narrowly defines which waterbodies are subject to federal jurisdiction and enhances opportunities to streamline energy infrastructure permitting. EEI’s member companies are focused on ensuring that they can continue to provide reliable, affordable, and increasingly clean energy for all customers. We will thoroughly review and analyze the details of the proposed rule, and we look forward to working with EPA, USACE, and other stakeholders throughout this rulemaking process.”
National Corn Growers Association President Lynn Chrisp “Farmers rely on clean water and are committed to protecting our environment and the communities where we live and work. With a clear understanding of what is and is not jurisdictional under the Clean Water Act, farmers can implement stewardship practices such as grass waterways and buffer strips without the burden of bureaucratic red tape or the fear of legal action. NCGA looks forward to fully reviewing the new WOTUS rule to ensure that it provides clear jurisdictional boundaries to farmers, protects our nation’s water and can be implemented without confusion.”
Associated General Contractors of America CEO Stephen E. Sandherr: “A new measure announced today by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will provide the kind of clarity needed to ensure that the waters of the U.S. continue to become even cleaner. The newly proposed clean water rule outlines clear and specific guidelines as to which sites require a federal water permit in addition to state and local water permits, and what needs to be done to protect federally permitted waters. As a result, the new measure will enable contractors for all types of construction projects, from schools to local roadways and other infrastructure, to understand which permits they need and proceed without substantial regulatory delay and additional cost. More important, the new clean water proposal will replace misguided mandates imposed by the previous administration that were both likely unlawful and created significant confusion about which waters were covered by whom. In fact, the prior rule has never been fully implemented nationwide, as it was immediately challenged in court. That rule introduced confusing jurisdictional “tests” that would have imposed new costs and delays on virtually every type of construction project anywhere in the country—even on sites without visible water nearby. The rule would have required costly consultants to determine whether a job site was covered by the rule and also needed a federal water permit, and then figure out what impact that would have on their other environmental requirements. As a result, the cost of infrastructure and economic development activities would have grown while the time required to complete each project would expand. The new proposal will provide the environmental protections the Nation’s waterways deserve with the clarity needed to ensure full compliance. In other words, the new rule will keep waters clean by making the rules clear. We look forward to working with federal officials to ensure the completion and implementation of this new clean water rule.”
Agricultural Retailers Association President and CEO Daren Coppock: “This proposed rule is a positive step toward regulatory certainty for America’s farmers, ranchers and ag retailers. This straightforward new language protects our nation’s clean water while allowing agricultural retailers to work with their farmer customers on the core of their business – providing food, feed, and fuel for our country and the world – and not wading through confusing and unclear policies. A clear rule that defines ‘navigable waters’ in a way that does not require a team of lawyers and consultants to determine if the federal EPA has jurisdiction over land and is within the scope of the Clean Water Act is something all Americans have needed for several decades. This proposed rule appears to draw bright lines on jurisdiction to remove confusion while protecting clean water. ARA looks forward to further exploring the proposal and submitting comments to the respective agencies. ARA appreciates that EPA and the Army Corps have taken the time to listen to the agriculture industry in writing this commonsense rule.”
American Exploration & Mining Association (AEMA) Executive Director Laura Skaer: "Today's release of a new water rule is an encouraging next step in the decades-long push for a WOTUS definition that empowers communities to protect their own water resources while providing regulatory clarity for our members. Today's announcement lays to rest the illegal federal overreach of the Obama-era WOTUS rule. AEMA welcomes this return of balance between state and federal water regulation."
Americans for Tax Reform “Americans for Tax Reform applauds this move by the Trump Administration. Today’s proposal puts power back in the hands of elected officials while allowing taxpayers and business owners to spend less time and money deciding if they need federal approval to run their own land.”
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives President and CEO Chuck Conner: “The new rule released today rids the WOTUS definition of the broad federal overreach embodied in the rule written by the previous administration. With this action, the Trump administration is continuing its commitment to defending farmers, ranchers and growers from burdensome and costly regulations that result in little impact on the environment.”
National Association of Wheat Growers President Jimmie Musick: “NAWG is encouraged by today’s action by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to increase clarity and transparency around the Waters of the U.S. regulation. Wheat growers know the importance of protecting our resources in order to sustain our farming operations and feed a growing world population. However, we need regulatory certainty, so we can remain in compliance with the law. We believe the new proposed rule does just this and reduces ambiguity in the law. We welcome the new proposed rule and plan on submitting comments.”
United Egg Producers President and CEO Chad Gregory: “United Egg Producers and the nation’s egg farmers welcome today’s proposed rule on defining what are Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act. We are grateful to U.S. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers for their efforts to craft a common-sense rule that clearly defines what waters are subject to federal jurisdiction. For over 20 years, the question of what are Waters of the U.S. under federal law has been the subject of litigation and confusing regulatory interpretations. The resulting lack of clarity has forced egg producers, like many in agriculture, to spend significant funds on outside experts simply to determine which waters are under federal jurisdiction, which waters are under state jurisdiction, and what is permissible on their farmland. Bodies of water, even those that are not subject to federal jurisdiction, are still well protected under the law. The Clean Water Act was explicitly designed to preserve the primary role of the states in protecting water quality. Waters that aren’t deemed a WOTUS are still protected by the states, which provide robust regulatory guidelines for their local waterways and drinking water systems that are enforced by multiple state agencies. Egg producers are committed to protecting the land and water in the communities where they live and work. To achieve this goal, farmers need a federal rule that can be followed without confusion. We look forward to providing comments on this proposed rule and supporting identifiable, common-sense standards to ensure the protection of lakes, rivers, and streams on U.S. farms.”
State Based Stakeholders
Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry President and CEO Gene Barr “As we noted in our comments to the Environmental Protection Agency in 2014, the 'Waters of the United States' rule would have significantly expanded federal jurisdiction to waters already being sufficiently protected by Pennsylvania’s water quality rules. This would have resulted in not only saddling businesses with additional confusion over what requirements apply, but the potential for significant civil penalties stemming from that lack of clarity. That rule would have cost the United States’ economic gain for the sake of negligible environmental benefits. We are pleased to see the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers move forward with a rulemaking process that will result in the development of a durable, workable rule that provides certainty to industry and protection to the environment.”
New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher: “New York Farm Bureau appreciates the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Rule that will provide clarity to farmers while still offering important protections to our country’s navigable waterways. We are hopeful the proposed rule will clear up the confusion that exists over the previous rule while also balancing the necessary distinction between federal and state protections. This issue has been a major priority and concern for New York’s farmers who faced costly permits and bureaucratic red tape simply to farm their land, as many families have done for generations. New York Farm Bureau will review the proposed rule and issue public comments as part of the process leading up to securing a final rule to ensure clean water and clear rules.”
California Farm Bureau Federation President Jamie Johansson: “We will review the proposal carefully in the hope it will restore balance to enforcement of the Clean Water Act. The existing WOTUS rule has produced little beyond confusion and litigation, and has undermined farmers’ efforts to work cooperatively with government agencies to protect water and land. Farmers want to do the right thing for the land, water and other natural resources under their care. Doing the right thing and complying with the law should be clear and easy to understand. We hope the new Clean Water Rule will provide the clarity farmers and ranchers need to allow the continued production of food and farm products while conserving natural resources.”
Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association President Robert McKnight, Jr.: “We thank the EPA and Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler for fulfilling the administration’s pledge to rewrite the onerous Obama-era WOTUS law. Their commitment to creating a new rule that is easily interpreted by property owners and that limits federal intrusion on private property rights signals that the new proposal is moving in the right direction. However, as with any rule of this scope and magnitude, it will take some time to thoroughly review the plan and ensure cattle producers are not needlessly burdened as they would have been under the previous version. We look forward to reviewing the rule and providing comments to the EPA on its impact to cattle producers and property owners.”
Oregon Farm Bureau Federation President Sharon Waterman: “Oregon Farm Bureau applauds the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for listening to America’s farmers and ranchers and taking a step in the right direction with the new Clean Water Rule. We are reviewing how the new rule will work on the ground for farm and ranch families based in Oregon. Every day Oregon’s farmers and ranchers work very hard to maximize water efficiency and protect water quality because our livelihood and future depend on it, it’s the law, and it’s simply the right thing to do. We hope the new rule will give Oregon’s farmers and ranchers the ability to productively work the land without constant fear of litigation, costly permits, or risk of enormous fines for even basic farm practices. We are extremely proud of the many Oregon Farm Bureau members who helped in the years-long campaign beseeching the EPA to ‘Ditch the Rule.’ The 2015 Waters of the U.S. definition went far beyond the lawful bounds of the Clean Water Act, and Oregon farmers and ranchers explained how WOTUS was unworkable and impractical in meetings with national lawmakers and federal agency reps, in media interviews, in letters to the editor, and via social media. The fact that we have a new Clean Water Rule is a testament to the power of Farm Bureau’s grassroots membership.”